Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Affected or Affectionate

For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:8

I get a kick out of being startled by the Word of God.

Recently Philippians chapter one jumped into my attention space. I began returning to the selection fairly regularly to digest again and listen to the Spirit. This morning, I noticed the verse above and checked the meaning in the Greek of affection.

The kick was in the gut--literally as the word means bowels. Well, that's the first definition. The third statement describing connotations of the one meaning is a heart in which mercy dwells.

I tend to think of affection as a physical manifestation of tender feelings. This is, of course, the show of affection. Yet, the word as used indicates to me an acknowledgement by Paul that his affective domain, the realm of his emotional being, is tender and full of mercy toward the Philippians, and that he ascribes this state to Jesus. He is not saying he can't wait to be hugging on them, though if with them most likely would express what he feels in that way.

Further, since (according to Strong) the Hebrews regarded the bowels as the seat of the more tender emotions of kindness and mercy, I was struck by the very limited way I have understood affection. I have defined affection as an act. Paul here uses the word to state the condition of his inner-being.

It causes me to question: When will our devotion to Christ, our abiding in Him become so real to us that we are released within to the freedom and authority of a gut level sense of mercy toward one another within the Body of Christ? When will we abandon ourselves to one another emotionally far beyond the affected, obligatory cultural construct of showing physically something we believe ideally perhaps, but do not fully emotionally embrace because of fear or pride?

We modern Christians live in a world where the headlines about predatory priests are but one of the fearsome depravities with which humanity is afflicted. Have we let the world around us hollow our guts of the tenderness which is Christ's mercy? If there were more affection, more depth of the feeling of it within our God-families, would some who have been of the faith but fallen into depravity been equipped by the emotional sustenance flowing from those with whom she or he walked, such that the lure of lust could not have masqueraded as a desirable end?


craig v. said...

Good thoughts ded! I think a related issue is the isolation we experience, especially those in full time ministry. In part, this is just the fruit of individualism and modern society. It's also fed by false expectations and pressure to have certainty where there can be no real certainty (my own little hobby horse for now). An isolated pastor feeling the pressure of being what he can't be is more likely to feel fear than tender mercy.

ded said...

Hey Craig!

Yep, the isolation is undoubtedly related to our lack of tender feelings for others. I believe we need to both receive and give such feeling for true psychological health. We (our culture) has so boxed the human experience rationally, we do not get the necessity of heart and how it matters.

careyrowland said...

Since you ended your post with question, I will submit an answer:
No,don't think so.
Sorry to reflect such cynicism, ded, but that's the way I see it. I have no sympathy for such priests.

I do love my friends. But the hugging thing is just chore for me.

ded said...


I have no sympathy, as such, for the priests either. But my questioning goes further, should God place me in a relationship with such a priest, could I, would I offer him unconditional love were he repentant?

Also, remember I said "some" in my original question. Though I used the priest example, I was thinking of all sexual sin on the part of confessing believers. Would a deeper understanding of affection, not necessarily more shows of affection strengthen anyone against sexual temptation?

That you see a hug as a chore rather illustrates my point that a cultural custom of a show of affection is not what Paul was experiencing nor describing. ;^)

ded said...

I can't find the post you asked to read and the discussion that followed. I remember you saying something about how to find it from your website, but have not remembered what I was do once there.

Can you re-direct here? I have no e-mail presently.

craig v. said...

I found out the hard way that you have no email. I tried to alert you to new content on my blog. Let me know when you get a new email address.

careyrowland said...

I over-reacted on this affection thing. I am not an affectionate person. And the "priest" reference took me off on a tangent, because when I was in college many years ago I started to detect something rotten in the Romish way of doing things. That's the church I was raised in. It was my first glimpse of incongruity between what religious people and what they say. I deplore their "forbidding of marriage" to the priesthood.

So, anyway, I guess I hear what you're saying. Let's all love one anther better. I can get on board with that.

Here's the link I mentioned on the phone:
The fifth posting down, entitled "What is Marriage" (and the 26 comments) is the one that I'd like your opinion about.

Thanks for bearing with me.